26th June, 2022

Review: A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus (Margaret Ferguson Books)

Time's are rather bleak right now, but don't you fear cause I've got you covered. If you are looking for a heartwarming read in the fashion of The Railway Children, do give Kate Albus' novel a try. 

It is 1940 and Anna, 9, Edmund, 11, and William, 12, have just lost their grandmother. Unfortunately, she left no provision for their guardianship in her will. Her solicitor comes up with a preposterous plan: he will arrange for the children to join a group of schoolchildren who are being evacuated to a village in the country, where they will live with families for the duration of the war. He also hopes that whoever takes the children on might end up willing to adopt them and become their new family--providing, of course, that the children can agree on the choice.

Moving from one family to another, the children suffer the cruel trickery of foster brothers, the cold realities of outdoor toilets, and the hollowness of empty tummies. They seek comfort in the village lending library, whose kind librarian, Nora Muller, seems an excellent candidate--except that she has a German husband whose whereabouts are currently unknown. 

A Place to Hang the Moon is the kind of book you want to make last for as long as possible and then hug it to your chest once you're finished before you start reading it again. As I said above, it reminded me a lot of stories such as The Railway Children and the Narnia books - well, minus the magical parallel world. This probably had to do with the general premise of the story (and the fact that Edmund is actually named after a Narnia character) but Albus makes a well-used trope entirely her own after only a few pages.  

I absolutely loved the three siblings and their little "preposterous plan". But I loved Nora and her little village library even more. Many of the scenes happening in the library, and later at Nora's cottage, were so superbly described that reading them felt like wrapping yourself in a warm, soft blanket. Even after many decades of being an avid reader, it still amazes me how words can conjure an atmosphere so well that you feel like you're right there in the story. But Albus does this effortlessly which is one of the reasons why this book has the potential to become a new classic. 

This is the perfect feel-good read that will bring back memories of what reading was like as a child. It is already one of my favourite books of 2022 and I hope you'll love it as much as I did. 

Rating: 5/5 stars

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